Bordeaux En Primeur 2009 Day 5: The Good, the Great and the Best

Roger Voss picks the top wines of the vintage.


Published:

TODAY:

The Firsts: Haut-Brion, Margaux, Latour, Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild, d'Yquem, Pétrus, Cheval Blanc, Ausone

Pessac-Léognan, Graves: red and white

ALSO SEE:

Bordeaux  En Primeuer Day 1: Sauternes

Day 2: Saint-Emilion and Pomerol

Day 3: Margaux, Moulis, Listrac, Médoc

Day 4: Saint-Julien, Saint-Estèphe and Pauillac

Gathered together in one room, eating small canapés and sipping wine, the Bordeaux chateau owners looked pleased as they contemplated the reports from this week’s en primeur tastings.

Well they should. For, not only is this a great vintage as I reported yesterday, this is also a vintage where the market may—and I emphasize may—have returned. Over 6,000 visitors registered to taste, the largest numbers ever. The biggest contingents, outside France, were from the UK, the United States and China, according to Sylvie Cazes-Régimbeau, president of the Union des Grands Crus which organized the week's tastings.

Buyers, journalists and friends along for the ride tasted the most luscious wines Bordeaux has produced, certainly since 1990, and possibly since 1982, depending on the chateau owner at hand. Cazes-Régimbeau, whose family owns Château Lynch-Bages in Pauillac, compared this year to 1989, as she described 2009 as "powerful, rich, racy—the ultimate vintage."

"It is one of those years when you have success on both the right bank and the left bank. The weather was kind to everybody," said Jean-René Matignon of Château Pichon-Longueville in Pauillac. Pichon is part of AXA Millésimes which also has properties in Sauternes and Pomerol. It was not a uniformly great year like 2005, but the merlot of Pomerol, the cabernet franc of Saint-Emilion and the cabernet sauvignon of the Médoc all produced impressive wines. That's not to forget the stunning sweet wines from Sauternes.

Today's tasting added another category of stars: the dry whites of Pessac-Léognan and the Graves. Much richer than those from 2007, the last fine year for dry whites, the wines have spice, fruits like apricots and pears and an enormous intensity of flavor. Yet, like the reds, they have preserved a fantastic freshness, citrusty and reminiscent of sauvignon blanc’s herbaceousness.

With success from every region, it is, thus, hard to choose a wine of the vintage. Stars for me were Château Palmer in Margaux and Château Pontet-Canet in Pauillac. Both achieved greatness by building on the many qualities of the year, while scrupulously preserving the unique character of their terroir and style. That makes them both enormously successful wines.

There is, though, one wine that stands apart from any other in 2009. My Wine of the Vintage award would have to go to Château d'Yquem. Always at the top of its Sauternes appellation, this year it was the best among an amazing collection of stunning sweet wines, any of which should be in a wine collector's cellar.

The magnificent Yquem is a fitting end to an extraordinary week of Bordeaux en primeur tastings. These were wines that firmly fix Bordeaux’s prestigious, near mythological position in the world of wine.

Bordeaux 2009 en primeur: The Firsts

98–100
Château d'Yquem 2009 Sauternes

The aromas are so rich and powerful, with great ripe apricots. There are honey, spice and beautiful sweet spiced pears. This is an extraordinary wine in an extraordinary year in Sauternes. –R.V.

97–99
Château Ausone 2009 Saint-Emilion
With huge freshness, the wine almost sings with elegance, despite its 14.5 percent alcohol. The texture is opulent, full of intense black fruits and a core of solid tannins. Impressive balance. –R.V.

97–99
Château Mouton Rothschild 2009 Pauillac
A wonderfully structured wine, it combines impressive purity of fruit with delicious, mouth-watering acidity, The dry structure holds this elegant wine perfectly in place. A great success. –R.V.

97–99
Château Pétrus 2009 Pomerol
Rich, sweet and concentrated, with a definite spicy character and soft tannins. This is richer than many Pétrus in the past, textured like velvet, with final acidity. –R.V.

96–98
Château Cheval Blanc 2009 Saint-Emilion

An impressive wine, a true return to form for Cheval Blanc. The fruit is enormous, packed with sweet black berry juice and with a brilliant freshness. There is a lovely smoky character, topped by ripe figs. –R.V.

96–98
Château Latour 2009 Pauillac
So velvet you cannot imagine that this is also a powerfully dense and tannic wine. The black berry fruits have just the right ripeness, while the texture is soft, spiced a little with wood. Under the extreme richness, powerful chocolate and delicious final acidity. –R.V.

95–97
Château Haut-Brion 2009 Pessac-Léognan
A very solid wine, showing tight wood, plum skins, power. It is much richer than usual at Haut-Brion and this gives a chunky character; the fruit a part of the very tannic structure. The aftertaste is firm, dry. –R.V.

95–97
Château Lafite Rothschild 2009 Pauillac
A powerful expression of Cabernet Sauvignon, solid in structure. The wine is rich and concentrated, very textured. Great spice goes with just enough fresh acidity, in this big wine. –R.V.

95–97
Château Margaux 2009 Margaux
A beautiful wine, great elegance, delicacy and charm. The balance is perfect, with the freshest black currant character. At the center are dry tannins and a solid texture. –R.V.

Bordeaux 2009 en primeur Pessac-Léognan and Graves: The whites.

95–97
Château Haut-Brion 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Haut-Brion's white wine is always a point of reference for a vintage. This has richness and power, guarding great freshness, citrus, lime zest, and beautiful spicy wood. –R.V.

94–96
Domaine de Chevalier 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Generous, ripe wine, its fruit a great mélange of sweetness, fresh crispness and layers of bright spice and lemon zest. Great balance. –R.V.

94–96
Château La Mission Haut-Brion 2009 Pessac-Léognan
The wine of the Dillon family's Laville Haut-Brion underwent a name change. It is now La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc. The quality, though, is as supreme as ever, ripe with tropical fruits, toast, almost honeyed; finishing with pink grapefruit and pear juice.
–R.V.

93–95
Château Larrivet Haut-Brion 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Open, opulent, generous wine, kept in check with spicy wood and acidity. The wine is ripe with delicious yellow fruit flavors. –R.V.

93–95
Château Malartic-Lagravière 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Balanced between ripe white fruits, with a hint of peach and a full texture of pear skins. The wine is powerful, the structure solid, but the freshness is delicious. –R.V.

93–95
Château Smith Haut-Lafitte 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Finely balanced wine, just the right fresh, herbaceous fruit to go with the ripe, fat texture and a delicious squeeze of lemon. Ginger adds to the mix. –R.V.

92–94
Château de Fieuzal 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Bright, crisp wine, plenty of vivacious herbal and lemon characters. Very fresh, with delicious apple skin texture. –R.V.

92–94
Château Ferrande 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Bold, ripe yellow fruits, sweetness, with a great rich undertow. The whole wine gains from an extra burst of final freshness. –R.V.

92–94
Château la Louvière 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Great fresh swathes of Sauvignon Blanc give a delicious herbaceous character to go with the fresh fruits. Good green character with a light spice from new wood. –R.V.

92–94
Château Margaux 2009 Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux Bordeaux
Soft, ripe, pineapple and mango flavors. An exotic wine powerful, but with extreme freshness, touched by honey. –R.V.

92–94
Château Pape-Clément 2009 Pessac-Léognan
A wine that shows the ripe fruit of the year, and al
so seems to keep enough freshness. Bold and rich, very spicy wood on top of peach fruit flavors. –R.V.

91–93
Château de France 2009 Pessac-Léognan

Full, ripe fruit, showing pear juice, some wood spice and ripeness. It feels fat, full-bodied. –R.V.

91–93
Château Haut-Brion 2009 Le Clarté de Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan
The new second white wine of Haut-Brion, the fruit crisply bright, with attractive acidity, cut with delicious citrus and wood. –R.V.

91–93
Château Latour-Martillac 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Spice and lemon freshness combine into a delicious, bright wine, just a touch of Sauvignon grassiness. –R.V.

91–93
Château Olivier 2009 Pessac-Léognan
On the herbaceous side, the fruit crisp, green herbs, but still ripe. The apple skin texture gives a great tang. –R.V.

91–93
Château Rahoul 2009 Graves
Fat style, almost Burgundian in its creamy character, a full-bodied wine, with plenty of ripe, yellow fruit and mango flavors. Big, bold. –R.V.

90–92
Château Carbonnieux 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Very tight green flavors with lively fresh fruits, restrained into a taut, mineral jacket. –R.V.

90–92
Château de Chantegrive 2009 Graves
Bright herbaceous fruit, lots of freshness, lively citrus character. The wine is light, vivid; finally deliciously crisp. –R.V.

90–92
Girolate 2009 Bordeaux

A big, rich wine, with lively fresh citric balance, enrobed in swathes of ripe apricots, and a touch of wood spice. –R.V.

90–92
Château la Garde 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Fresh, full in-the-mouth wine, a bright Sauvignon character, rounded and with a pear fruit character. Just touched by wood. –R.V.

90–92
Château Picque-Caillou 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Good balance between richness and great freshness. The acidity is almost sweet, giving a wine that is spicy, and with a great green aftertaste. –R.V.

89–91
Château Bouscaut 2009 Pessac-Léognan
A full-bodied wine that lacks some definition. It has fatness, weight, but the freshness is not all there. –R.V.

89–91
Clos Nardian 2009 Bordeaux
Very fresh. With just a light touch of wood spice, and a great burst of citrus, grapefruit, a little lychee from Muscadelle. –R.V.

89–90
Château Haut-Bergey 2009 Pessac-Léognan
A definite burnt character on the nose, but the fruit has proper richness, the wood perhaps showing too much high toast. The freshness should be kept and not lost in the wood. –R.V.

88–90
Château La Grande Clotte 2009 Bordeaux
From one hectare in Lussac Saint-Emilion, with ripe yellow fruits, sweetness almost, with a touch of perfume. –R.V.

Bordeaux 2009 en primeur: Pessac-Léognan and Graves. The reds.

95–97
Château La Mission Haut-Brion 2009 Pessac-Léognan

Lovely, velvet-textured wine with acidity and some spicy wood. The texture is so ripe and the tannins voluptuous with a light touch of chocolate. Magnificent rich wine. –R.V.

94–96
Château Haut-Bailly 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Dominated by firm tannins, dark texture, black berry and currant fruits. A powerful wine that shows an immense dry core. –R.V.

93–95
Domaine de Chevalier 2009 Pessac-Léognan
A firm wine, with great juiciness, ripeness, showing the freshness of the year as well as ripe fruits. –R.V.

93–95
Château Malartic-Lagravière 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Ripe fruit, with great packed spicy wood, sweet tannins and black currant fruit flavors. –R.V.

93–95
Château Picque Caillou 2009 Pessac-Léognan

A fine, fresh, berry-flavored wine; delicious acidity, ripe final fruits. Great balance here, the year's freshness in firm focus. –R.V.

93–95
Château Smith Haut-Lafitte 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Robust and rich wine, balancing well the rich fruits, flavors of plum juice and sweetness along with very firm, solid tannins. –R.V.

92–94
Château Carbonnieux 2009 Pessac-Léognan
With its solid tannins, and chunky texture, this is a well-balanced wine. The fruit is ripe, full of freshness, big on generous structure. –R.V.

92–94
Château de Fieuzal 2009 Pessac-Léognan

While there is definite high toast here, the structure is firm, showing dark plums, black berries and solid, ripe flavors. –R.V.

92–94
Château Ferrande 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Structured. A serious layer of new and toasty wood, the wine is solid with dark tannins, chocolate and firm plum skin texture. –R.V.

92–94
Château La Garde 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Spicy wood, ginger and nutmeg, balancing with solid black fruits. The wine is rich, a powerhouse of sweet tannins, finishing freshly with black currant juice. –R.V.

92–94
Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Spicy wood, with stewed pear and ginger, as well as fine berry fruits. The wine is solid, elegant, with great ripe fruits. –R.V.

92–94
Château Pape-Clément 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Spiced pears in red wine, an exotic range of sweet berry fruits and nutmeg, along with a solid core of structure. Intriguing wine. –R.V.

91–93
Château de France 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Firm tannins, solid and chunky, with good ripe fruits and sweet tannins. The wine has structure, some bitter coffee, and fresh acidity. –R.V.

91–93
Château Olivier 2009 Pessac-Léognan
The firmest tannins, but over a good layer of ripe fruits, fresh acidity and a core of spicy wood. –R.V.

90–92
Château Bouscaut 2009 Pessac-Léognan
It takes a while for this wine to show. Then it has solid tannins, topped by ripe berry flavors, rich plums and an edge of juiciness. –R.V.

90–92
Château Larrivet Haut-Brion 2009 Pessac-Léognan

Big, ripe fruits, full of sweet tannins and exotic spice. Balanced, just an extra hint of ripeness. –R.V.

90–92
Château Rahoul 2009 Graves

Packed with ripe fruits, caramel flavors, lots of wood, solid and well balanced. Good final acidity. –R.V.

89–91
Château de Chantegrive 2009 Graves
Solidly packed tannins, very firm and structured, a feeling of considerable extract as well as a high toast content. –R.V.

89–91
Château Haut-Brion 2009 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan
A rich wine, with soft, juicy fruit, some spice; the tannins dry at the center. Good structure, touch of wood. –R.V.

89–91
Château la Louvière 2009 Pessac-Léognan
A wine that is packed with bitter chocolate, tight and dark tannins, very solid, firm, perhaps too extracted. –R.V.

88–90
Château La Mission Haut-Brion 2009 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan

Finely structured, a wine that boasts great fresh fruits, firm tannins and berry fruits. The wine is structured with considerable acidity. –R.V.

88–90
Château Latour-Martillac 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Very ripe fruit aromas, the fruit ripe, full of sweetness, showing signs of super maturity. –R.V.

87–89
Château Haut-Bergey 2009 Pessac-Léognan
Juicy, ripe fruits, showing signs of over-ripe grapes. The wine feels flabby. –R.V.

 

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